Cocktail Time: Absinthe

Over the years of my adventures as a bounder and general ne’er-do-well, I have occasionally been known to frequent the more bohemian and hedonistic establishments to be found in town and city. Relaxing in the company of poets, artists and dancing girls, one finds the nerves relaxed and the mind expanded – particularly when imbibing the Green Fairy, la fée verte: absinthe.

Absinthe has a formidable reputation. It’s been made illegal in many countries in the past and has been blamed for murder and madness. But if we take things carefully, I’m sure we’ll be OK. Though potent, it’s not as intimidating as considered – and is very enjoyable when prepared correctly.

Preparing absinthe is in itself a ritual, and requires certain specifically designed items. The glass is usually ornate and stemmed, sometimes with a small reservoir at the bottom. The spoon is perforated or slotted.

I’m no expert, but the following steps explain the method I’ve found to prepare and enjoy this drink.

  • Pour approx 1 ounce of absinthe into the glass; some guides recommend turning the glass to allow the liquid to coat the lower area.
  • Place the absinthe spoon across the top of the glass (mine has a small ridge to keep it in place).
  • Place an ice cube on the spoon.
  • Slowly pour ice cold water over the ice cube so it flows into the glass, dissolving the ice cube – 4 to 5 ounces is recommended, but experiment to find your preferred taste (maybe not too much in one sitting, though).
  • Mix any ice cube into the liquid, it should turn cloudy (which is known as louche). You’re then ready to drink.

The liquorice taste of absinthe (or other similar spirits) is not something I wasn’t a fan of originally, but I’ve learned to like. The ritual of preparation – and the paraphernalia – as well as the history, adds a lot to the experience.

Absinthe is now widely available in the UK. The version in the photos is from Andorra, and slightly higher percentage than found on these shores at 85%…

Enjoy your drink, friends – but please treat absinthe with the respect it deserves and drink responsibly!

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